Whispers of Faith

Dare to be Patient

“The Ides of March” Series … Prompt #17: “Use the first post you see on Facebook as inspiration.”

PATIENCE.

In one moment of prayer, you resolve to sweetly be filled with patience the day long.

The next moment, someone’s texting you saying they’re canceling … or you find out that someone didn’t do what they were supposed to do … or someone else just has an incessant habit of “forgetting” … or you’re accosted by that person who seems to have a never-ending supply of things to talk about…

… and you just want to open your mouth and let out a long scream, patience having fled the scene along with your sanity.

Irritations. Annoyances. People’s failures. Anger. Things getting in the way of your perfectly planned life. Are these not the very things that call for the need of patience in the first place?

If things never upset me in life, why how easy it would be for me to exercise patience! I could calmly and soothingly reply to each of those situations never getting a feather ruffled out of place. And patience would suddenly become an unnecessary virtue.

Patience requires staring the bloody mess in the face and saying, “Okay. This is ugly. But even this requires love and understanding.” It admits that these situations in life aren’t easy to face – but they are worth facing for what they produce in the end: a stronger character.

There’s a reason why I have this quote by Ann Voskamp taped to my closet door:

“Patient people dare to gratefully accept people where they are. Grateful for who they are now, appreciative of works of art not yet finished, but still deeply loved.”

My impatience with other people’s faults reveals my own tragic sinfulness – that I’m expecting them to be what I cannot even be: perfect. I hold unrealistically high expectations for myself and for others, not allowing grace to steal in and cover the unfinished parts of who we are. I can’t abide by their mistakes and flaws, let alone be grateful for them! How God has so much work to do on my heart.

So what do I do? Throw in the towel and say “it’s not worth it”? Count to ten and draw a deep breath and grit my teeth? Run away from the situation and hide my head?

No. I need to pause in that moment. I need to linger in that moment. Recognize my sinful, selfish tendencies to crave perfection [from myself and others], and gently let it go. Look for a way to help that other person – whether that’s by listening cheerfully to their chatter [and being genuinely interested in it!] or helping them become more faithful by reminding them yet again of their responsibilities or helping them by extending grace, knowing that I will need my own share of grace extended to me.

For every time I say, “No, I will not be patient with you,” that’s one less time I deserve to have someone else be patient with me. Thanks be to God that He doesn’t hold this kind of system against me! Praise His name that He is infinitely patient with an undeserving and all-too-forgetful creature wanting her own way. May He infuse in me His patience and love that I may a greater character possess one day.

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